Bellies by Nicola Dinan

Review by Jules Gargan

In Bellies, an inspiring coming-of-age story by Nicola Dinan, Tom and Ming come face to face with the people they are becoming and the circumstances that shape their lives. As they grow as a couple and as individuals, they must look inward and ask themselves heartbreaking questions as their lives begin to lead them down vastly different paths: Is it possible to compromise who you are to save your relationship? And is it worth it?

Bellies is the type of story that continues to live in your heart long after you finish reading. It is full of both love and loss, inspiring tears of joy and sadness as the story unfolds. You can’t help but feel the aching pangs of loneliness, growth, and heartbreak that each character experiences. This book captured the very essence of what it feels like to shed the person society expects you to be in order to become who you truly are.

Dinan pulls us along on the journey of discovering queerness, young love, gender identity, and friendship. It is an ode to all those who are feeling lost in their twenties as well as an analysis of the struggles people face in areas of relationship, friendship, and culture.

One of the most amazing things about this novel was the ways in which Tom and Ming’s stories showcase the hurt and ostracization that all young queer people are subjected to, urging the reader to consider the risk and struggle that queer and gender non-conforming people face in their everyday lives. Readers within those communities are left feeling as though they have been held close, if only for 350 pages.

Without question, this book will have you crying on your bathroom floor and questioning everything you once thought about life and love. It is a once-in-a-lifetime novel readers will come back to over and over.